Oscar Öberg and Lorna McGeown, founder and HR manager at Softube, a company that specialises in software and hardware for music production, share their experience in hiring international talent and the benefits it brings to their company.
At the age of 44, Oscar Öberg is still working on his first job. He started studying at LiU in 1998 and made a masters thesis on a better product for the music industry, emulating the sound of guitar amplifiers in software. In 2003, he started a business doing this for others but after a few years he and his colleagues decided to make their own product. Suddenly they were making more money doing their own software and later on also hardware, released in 2014. Today, after two decades of success, Softube has established itself as a leader in its industry.
“In the beginning we had a lot of students doing theses for us, Oscar explains. Then we tried to hire the people we thought were a fit for the company. We hired three and they are still at the core of the company. Then we consisted of four for quite some time because we were still trying to break even. Around 2010 we started making a profit and then had to ask ourselves if we wanted to grow. The answer was yes. Since 2010 we have grown to almost 60 people.”
Softube started off with only men, but wanted and were glad to have more women in the company, only to discover that it was a huge challenge to find them.
“We always try to get more women in the company, but the industry is very narrow. It’s a challenge for the whole industry”, says Oscar.
Within this growing process Lorna McGeown, born in the United Kingdom, graduated with a degree in Law, explored a career in Sweden, and joined the company later on. With a background in office and project management in her home country, she managed to secure a position as an administrative coordinator at Softube. As the company grew, so did Lornas’s role, and she was trained in human resources, eventually rising to the position of HR Manager.
On finding talents, Lorna thinks that meeting students directly is a great way to get to know them personally and evaluate their profiles. When it comes to specific recruitment strategies, Softube also posts job ads on Linkedin and several portals. However, she recommends job seekers to apply even if they have only 75% of the skills required for the available positions.
”It’s important to show interest and state why you would like to work in the company”, emphasizes Lorna.
After years of growth, Softube has increased the percentage of diversity in its workforce. More women and international talent have been hired in recent years. They consider this as a good strategy to open opportunities for new perspectives and experiences in their work processes.
Having a natural interest in the company and its products is highly relevant for recruitment processes, therefore they also look for talent in their customer base or are in one way or another connected to Softube.
As Sweden is a small country, Softube reached out to a global market from the beginning. Therefore, hiring international talents was a no-brainer.
Despite some challenges that come with hiring international employees, Oscar sees this as a positive development for his company.
“It’s been really good”, he says. “We already know most of the engineers in our industry in Sweden and especially in Linköping, so it’s been great to bring in new perspectives and backgrounds. It adds more to the company”.
However, there are also obstacles that come with this approach. One of the biggest challenges is navigating the practicalities of migration, such as housing and obtaining personal identity numbers.
Despite these obstacles, Oscar and his team are doing everything they can to support their international employees. They have created a spreadsheet of landlords in Linköping to help employees find housing and are working to help spouses find jobs as well. Softube is committed to making the transition to Sweden as smooth as possible for their international employees, recognizing that the diverse perspectives and backgrounds they bring to the company will ultimately benefit everyone involved.
One of Lorna’s key contributions to the company has been to question whether proficiency in Swedish is truly necessary for certain roles. By demonstrating that many positions do not require fluency in the language, she has helped Softube to expand its talent pool and bring in diverse employees from all over the world.
Lorna believes that having a sense of community among international employees is crucial for maintaining retention and fostering a positive work environment.
“Sharing experiences and new perspectives helps the company to gather new ways of thinking and improves inclusivity at the same time”, she says. “To support this, Softube offers Swedish classes during working hours for its international employees”.
Another opportunity for recruiting international talent is through international students at the Master’s and Ph.D. levels. These students are already in Sweden and can start working while the visa process is ongoing. They also have a personal number and bank account, which makes it easier for them to navigate housing and other services. As a result, they are a highly attractive group for companies to hire.
Overall, Lorna’s experience and work at Softube have shown that by being open to diverse perspectives and backgrounds, companies can tap into a broader pool of talent and create a more inclusive and dynamic work environment.
For companies considering hiring international talent, Oscar’s advice is to just go for it.
“How hard can it be? It’s just a bunch of practical issues and sometimes time delays, but that happens with swedes too. Finding the right person is so valuable for the company and the most important thing!”
Lorna agrees. She advises companies to reach out for help if they are unsure about any aspect of the process.
“Companies can help each other to understand different processes in order to have better experiences working with international talent, Also working with agencies that help in the migration process is important to have the right guidance,” she says.
Lorna also stresses the importance of providing support for international employees once they are on board.
“Companies need to understand that these talents require support, they are far away from home and their family and friends. Therefore allowing them to work from their home countries for some time could improve the retention of this talent. Also supporting them with Swedish classes and general advice in communities can help to ensure the well-being of these talents”.
Lorna suggests that companies looking to hire international talent should reach out to other companies that have done so before in order to reduce the fear of working with international talent. By learning from the experiences of other companies, companies can better understand the process and help each other to get through it.
Overall, while hiring international talent can come with its own set of challenges, the benefits of a more diverse and global workforce can be well worth it. By seeking help and support, and being open to new perspectives, companies can navigate the process successfully and benefit from the unique talents and ideas that international employees bring to the table.